The Boston Celtics certainly could have used Marcus Smart in the second half of Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Smart got the boot from the matchup between Atlantic Division rivals early in the third quarter. After taking an apparent elbow from Joel Embiid while fighting through a screen, the Celtics guard let his frustration get the best of him and shoved the 76ers big man. Smart’s ejection seemed to serve as the catalyst for a momentum shift, as Philadelphia rallied to edge out Boston at Wells Fargo Center.
Brad Stevens admitted he was disappointed by Smart’s actions, especially given how important the fifth-year pro is to the Celtics’ success. Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris echoed the head coach’s sentiments after the game.
“I mean, he knows. He took responsibility. He knows how much of a big piece he is for us,” Irving said, as captured by MassLive. “We need him out there in terms of his smarts and being out there, being aggressive on the defensive end as well as (Aron) Baynes going down battling with Joel. Those are big parts of the game, but we don’t want to make any excuses. Those things can happen, in terms of Smarty getting ejected especially when we’re in an environment like this. We talked about it, we squashed it out and moved on.”
Morris added: “Smart been around the league,” per MassLive’s Tom Westerholm. “He understands. … Our depth is one of our biggest aspects so it is what it is. He made a mistake. I know he would take it back.”
“Obviously Smarty does Smart things,” Morris added. “And he’s our best defender on Redick, so obviously we needed him. We needed his toughness, we needed his defense. So it is what it is.”
There’s still no word on whether Smart will receive additional punishment for his spat with Embiid.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images